The dolls are here! American Girl San Francisco (although located slightly south at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto) officially opens tomorrow with much fanfare. This is every doll lover’s dream, and it’s fun enough to snag those on the fence, including my daughter, who was one of those quickly won over by American Girl.
It’s in the old Talbots location, near Pottery Barn. Walking in the main entrance, one is greeted by the historic collection for which American Girl is known. To the right, is the doll of the year, who will only be available until the end of December to make way for the girl of 2014, who will be introduced in January. To the left, is the library of American Girl books. If you have a daughter or are looking for a book to give a girl, these books are fabulous. There is historical fiction, advice books, journals, and more. One of the best books I’ve ever bought my daughter – The Care and Keeping of You – happens to be an American Girl book.
Also on the first floor are the Bitty Babies, aimed at younger kids, and plenty of accessories. The other store entrance, from the mall side, is in the Bitty Baby section.
Upstairs is where it is at. The Bistro is upstairs, as is a hair and ear piercing station, personalized t-shirt making, and many more dolls, especially the ones where a girl can pick out one that looks most like her.
As of yesterday, the Bistro was booked through March. However, I was told that drop ins, especially during weekdays, may be lucky enough to get seats. The Bistro is a great multi-generational spot for tea or lunch. Dolls have special seats and are served, too. Don’t fear if you do not have a doll; if you would like, you can borrow a doll to join you at the Bistro. My mom excitedly told me that Michael Strahan enjoyed taking his daughter for a tea party at another American Girl location (yes, my mom gets attached to morning talk show hosts). If it’s good enough for Michael Strahan…
Another cute feature is a box of open ended questions to generate conversations. Each table has a little box filled with cards asking things like, “Where do you want to be in five years?” It’s a no pressure way to spice up conversations.
There is a private room off the Bistro for parties, a room that will certainly be occupied for some time.
Hair, Earrings and More
Ear piercing is $14, which was a must for my daughter’s new doll. Hair styles cost about $15-20 dollars. It’s a novelty, for sure, and everything is done with water and some skillful braiding and brush work. It seems like something I should be able to do at home, but I can’t. Maybe other moms, but not me. (Thank you to Hilary, who rocked the hair station.)
My daughter has never been someone who plays with dolls much. She’s owned two neglected Cabbage Patch Dolls, and has many stuffed animals, but hasn’t wanted any other doll until last month when she mentioned American Girl. She fell in love on the visit, catching the eye of the doll who she believes looks just like her, and that’s when things got real. Luckily our visit was the week before her birthday. She’s turning 11, which does seem old for a doll, but there were other girls her age in the store, all clutching their dolls. It’s much better than many alternatives at age 11. Given the choice of a doll or all of the other birthday gifts she’d already requested, she gave it some thought and said she really wanted the doll. She got her doll, got the doll’s ears pierced, and her hair braided. She was incredibly excited. She carefully held the doll on her lap on the way home, then made a small doll bed for her to sleep. While $110 was more than I’d normally spend on a birthday gift, it was a special gift and I’m thrilled I don’t have to do any birthday shopping or wrap gifts.
Many of the girls in line around us had brought their allowances and others saved money to make their purchases. It was sweet. While I’m sure there will be many parents and grandparents going overboard, it was nice to see how much consideration and planning the girls had done to afford new purchases for their dolls.
What You Need to Know for Opening Weekend
American Girl expects about 10,000 people this Saturday and Sunday! Don’t let that scare you because after several major store openings, they have the drill down.
Line up begins at 7 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday. There will be in-line entertainment (face painters and balloon artists) to help make the time pass quickly, but there will also be a ticketing system where American Girl will get your cell phone number and call you when it’s your turn to enter the store. That means that instead of standing in line, you can be sitting down at Starbucks.
All kids in attendance will receive a free gift.
There will be special giveaways and promotions, too.
Best of all, American Girl will be making a donation to the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, as their designated grand opening weekend benefit partner.
Psst: If you happen to have some time today, they are open until 2 p.m. when they wrap up their soft launch.